Cheese, Crackers…Social Activism, Anyone?
I’d never been much for political or religious debates. Growing up in the South, I found it almost impossible to express my burgeoning views about delicate subjects without backlash or biblical proverbs slapped across my forehead. The comments I grew accustomed to hearing were usually followed by riotous laughter, a wide grin of missing teeth, and a smoker’s cough that reeked of Pabst Blue Ribbon. The whole idea of arguing for the sake of arguing got old and I soon retreated inward to keep the peace; to be the good boy I was always told to be. Needless to say, that didn’t last very long.
Yet, now with the Middle East in the throngs of decimation, Sarah Palin a step away from running on the ticket for President of Crazy Land, and religious fanatics basing political platforms on outdated doctrine under the false pretense of unwavering truth are finally being shown to have something more sinister to hide and even more financially to gain. My boyfriend lived in Libya as a child and then moved to other exotic places like New Jersey. In Libya, he had to take a Qaddafi lunchbox to school because it was all that was available to carry his Sarma and Lahmajun safely through Tripoli under the country’s fascist regime. As an Armenian, he spoke of the genocide his people endured at the hands of the Turks and the fact that his grandfather died in his father’s arms because Israelis blocked medical aid from reaching the Armenian quarter in an effort to turn Israel into the Jewish-majority state that it is today.
Spending his formative years in France, he gained a greater respect for countries that did not have to force religion or politics onto a people who just wanted to live in peace. Now France is trying to push out Muslims because their extreme religious views are seen as a threat to their socialist country. “Well ain’t that some merde! Can all you boys wake us ladies up when you’re finished playing games with your big-boy toys? I mean seriously. I don’t want a ticket to see the gun show and I’m not interested in how many push-ups you can do with one hand. You have destroyed our beloved sandbox and I’ve been forced to move my rose bush far away from your bulldozers!”
I ask you all, “What kind of God says it’s okay to kill your neighbors or to force them to live on reservations, in blocked-off portions of their homeland, or to have them die before their basic, human rights are met? What kinds of morals make you better than someone else? Is believing you are superior truly behaving in a moral fashion? For Christ’s sake, ‘What Would Oprah Do?’” This is not just happening in one part of the globe, in one town, or in one school. It’s happening to every human being everywhere on this planet. When in a time of tremendous separation, why can’t we stop this speeding locomotive in its tracks, the one our forefathers built and set in motion for us long ago, before we all crash and burn? Can we stop wanting more, more, more and realize what we have…right…now? Can we quiet our minds for a moment and know a single, collective truth: that all is and all is well?
I was raised Catholic, just below the Bible belt, in a practical family who had never really known anyone who was homosexual or (God-forbid!) transgender for that matter. I always knew I was just a little off the color pallet, didn’t know why or what that meant, or how to get answers to questions I didn’t know how to ask. I never dressed up in my mother’s muumuus or adorned my naked, boy body with her Dollar General scent o’ the month. However much I loved playing in her jewelry box you’d never see me pinning her cubic-zirconia-encrusted puppy dog broach on to my oversized, Offspring t-shirt or use one of her pastel hairbands to hold back my perfectly parted bowl-cut. I guess I just wasn’t “gay” enough back then. Some would disagree of course. “Curses!” Humph.
I remember being forced to confess my sins in Sunday school when I didn’t even know I had anything to feel that sorry about. After all, I was a mother’s dream child: polite, creative, a ready shoulder to cry on, and a fierce cook in the kitchen. I couldn’t utter how I really felt for fear of making others uncomfortable so I made up a lie and told the priest I cheated on my math test. Thinking that was typical boy behavior, he told me to say three “Hail Marys,” to go straight home, and to tell my parents what I had done to purge from all my sins. I went home, perturbed and unsatisfied with the judge’s remarks. I told my mother I was going to shave my head, become a Buddhist monk, and find my own God through eating lotus petals and enjoying deep, relaxing, aromatherapy massages on the High Holy Days. That way I could learn to levitate while burning for all eternity in the fiery depths of Hell. I figured God would want me to be happy.
May I be Frank for a minute…I’m kind of tired of being Danny boy right now. I’d just like to know in sixty characters or less what all the fuss is about, really. It’s not about who did what or how or why or this or that. It’s taking responsibility for your actions and realizing that we are all in this thing together. She’s the problem, he’s the problem, they’re the problem…problem, shmablem! Is it so hard to look at the world and think something other than fear for a change? Can we turn off the TV and take a look at our daughters and girlfriends and wives and mothers and tell them how much they truly mean to us? Can we take a little time out of our day and enjoy something other than The View?
I find the whole idea of religious fanaticism and starched conservatism to be disturbing and counterproductive to organic, progressive growth as spiritual human beings. Yet, everyday there is more and more rhetoric about good verses evil on the political and religious fronts while both are battling on precarious ground. There is an overwhelming sense of hatred that profoundly emanates from powerful, narrow-minded individuals who have no desire to feel what it’s like to be someone else for a day. Thus a definitive line has now been drawn between silence and complacency, the world over. I’ve seen my fair share of ignorance play a major part in history’s embarrassing failures, and I’ve come to the conclusion that years of man-made, religious brainwashing and the inability to separate church and state have lead to America’s downward spiral as a nation of free citizens under a unified republic. The question next is where do we go from here?
I want to get married one day to a man whose love for me never fades with age or anger. I want to adopt two children when I know I’m ready to handle the investment, honor and responsibility. I want to have a Performing Arts and Healing Center somewhere far, far away from here. I want to see everyone I love treated with dignity and respect no matter what they look like or choose to be referred to by. I want to rediscover more smiles than frowns, experience more laughter than tears, feel softness instead of harshness, witness peace instead of war, and know more acceptance than just tolerance. I know I’m not alone in this and it’s high time those of us who feel it, speak up. We’re all waiting. I wonder, “What do you really want?”